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Retro Fire

Written: 7.26.11
Acquired: 2.13.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $4

Pub: Sony ImagesoftOct. '92
Dev: Ukiyotei8 MEGS

Before the good folks at Ukiyotei brought us Sky Blazer, they gave us a movie game adaptation of Hook. If you've played both games it's not hard to spot the similar feel between Sky and Peter Pan. I never saw Hook as a kid, so I never cared for the game growing up (never played it in fact), but upon my 16-bit SNES resurrection in early 2006, I'd read some good things about Hook. Now that I've played it, here are my (happy) thoughts...
How many games are named after the villain?  Anyone, Bueller?


Ah, growing up and the loss of innocence... a trial we all face...

                                             The intro does a wonderful job at setting the atmosphere

From outta nowhere -- here comes that horrible bad MAN!

                                                         Talk about a storyline that's WHACKED!

It was too quiet a night... TOO QUIET...

                                                 A villain whose game is named after him. Not bad

[If I were Peter, this actually might be a blessing in disguise -Ed.]

                                      Thomas Wolfe once said you can't go home again. Better can Pan

Excuse that Peter, he's a bit of a slow learner, the git

                                             And he also scares easily... like a four-year-old girl, really

Ole Tinkerbell. Her spunk and charm are certainly second to none

                                      AND THE ADVENTURE BEGINS -- NEVERLAND HERE WE COME!

From the makers of Sky Blazer... comes...

                                                 Sky Blazer fans will appreciate Hook and vice versa


No one except Tink believes you're Pan... not even yourself

Ah, the very first scene in the very first stage. Since 2006-ish, I've heard about Hook being a quietly solid underrated little game, and it wasn't until recently I picked it up for the first time. Seeing this scene here I just had a good gut feeling about it. The colors are vibrant and lush. The sound and music straight from the movie. I was in for a fun adventure

                                      Sweet graphics huh?  Coulda fooled me this was a Capcom game

The first stage introduces you to the basic controls. Pan does control a little slowly, though, which is my biggest gripe with the game. Here you must make one, Peter Banning, remember that he still IS... THE PAN

Oh my dear LOST BOYS, you've really brought this upon yourselves

Don't worry, you don't actually hurt the Lost Boys. It's just a friendly game of tag... with your dagger. But see how they freeze in place?  No harm done... really

                                          Good to see ole Thudbutt there, albeit a bit bent outta shape!

Just like the movie, Pan can fly off, but he needs to find Tink first. Watch your flight meter. Pan's flying bits are much smoother and better implemented than what we saw in Sky Blazer (which was clunky)


The first showdown of the game comes with Rufio, who is sort of the stand-in leader of the Lost Boys. He doesn't believe you are Pan, so show him who's REALLY in charge here!

                                                   Just like in baseball, three strikes and he's OUT!

There ya go, Peter!  Now you've got it!  THE PAN IS BACK, JACK!

                                       And now, the REAL battle begins. Off to the magical forest we go


The cherry fills your health bar by one. The apple restores all your health

Those guards meander around and are pretty darn dumb

I hate spiders. In real life, I mean. I totally remember watching Arachnophobia as a kid. That did it for me

                                       Meanwhile, the pirates better watch out for dagger-in-the-crotch!

This funky old monkey is named Smee. A fitting name for a weird little critter like such. It should be noted all the boss fights in Hook are quite easy. Nevertheless fun

Come on Smee... over here, boy... I got a special treat for ya...

                                                                            LEVEL THREE

We go from lush greens to this!  I can't explain it but I just dig the look and feel of this stage. It just fits in with the whimsical feel of Hook; there's a charm to it

                                       Those barrel rolling goons / boulders can give Pan a tough time

Look at this. How simple
it is, yet how sweet is it. This is why I love 16-bit, why I love the SNES. I guess, like Pan himself, we're all grown ups looking for our childhood again in the midst of a cruel world. A lone evil archer, having launched a flaming arrow, hopes to appease Captain Hook as Pan rushes to avoid certain death and bum rush the bloke

Man, I miss when games and life used to be simple like this  ^_^

Those trees there add another nice touch to
this groovy little stage

                                             More archers and evil mutant plants attempt to do you in

Certainly is. Although Pan moves a little slow, you get used to it. It's really not that bad after a while. Plus he can run and fly to collect bonuses like this with ease. Overall, the control is pretty good

As a little kid I used to dream about flying to places far, far away...

                                                                             LEVEL FOUR

Ah, our old friend Tink appears right at the beginning. That must mean we're in for some flying lessons...

                                      Thankfully the flying controls are a lot smoother than SkyBlazer's

Your flight meter drains rather quickly so make haste!  If you're skilled enough, you should make it to the next "Tink refill station" just in the nick of time. Perfectly placed too!

For some reason they remind me of the tigers from MEGAMAN 5

All in all Hook is an easy game. This here though presents us with one of the trickier bits...

                                      The mermaids try relentlessly to push you into the bombs -- yikes!

This stage really focuses on Pan's flight acumen. Even the boss encounter requires flight precision!

Luckily for you, Tink awaits on the left side for refills!

                                                                               LEVEL FIVE

I LOVE ME LEVEL 5!  Although it has no boss, it's super fun to navigate and has a pretty killer atmosphere. Great stage to play through in the middle of the night...

                                      Nothing like taking a relaxing jaunt through a dark spooky cave...

Remember how in Sky Blazer you slip through the foliage of trees and bushes?  Where do ya think that came from...

And don't jump too high either!

Carefully fly your way up here. To make Peter's life troublesome there are two nasty serpentine critters waiting for a decent meal to come along...

                                                     Yikes.... his mouth is bigger than your head!

What would a dark,
dank, decrepit cave
level be without some
blood-thirsty bats???

Close call there!  Thank God now for all those yoga sessions, eh?

The swimming bits throughout the game
are also easy to control

                                             I've learned to never take good swim controls for granted

Another awesome scene. Long live 16-bit!  There's just something special and precious about these old 16-bit games. And Hook is as fun to play
as it is to look at

[Ya not gonna cry, are you? -Ed.]  I, er, Pan, just might actually...

                                                                               LEVEL SIX

We've seen forests, oceans, caves... of course, what's left but the standard ice/snow level! And it's quite a good one

                                              Hook just has a lovely presentation about it, doesn't it?

These pirates can only
be killed from behind

It's true what they say... Pan is a backstabber if you ever saw one!

Easiest boss fight in the game. You don't even have to move an inch after you've positioned yourself correctly there. A little disappointing but I always believe it's better for a game to be too easy than too damn hard, if forced to pick between those two

                                         You could just NOT position yourself there, making it harder..


Guess what... it's your mandatory force side scrolling level -- yippee!

Get a move on it, Pan!

The strongest attack in the game, but given out too far and few in-between. You lose it on first hit, too. Oh well, the game's easy enough as it is

                                                Love the sky color in this stage. Brilliant atmosphere


Here it is, folks. The best stage in the game. See that flame ball over there? You can strike it and put it out... which will lead to the coolest thing in this game

Hook takes you back to the good old days of video game magic

         WHOA MOMMA!

                                     Don't put the flame out, it'll attack you. Put it out, darkness. Sweet!

Dare to laugh at me huh, punk?!  We'll just see who gets the last laugh now!

Thankfully the lights go out only for a little bit. It's brilliant, isn't it?

Pan continues to mosey about the stage while the flame ball chases him from behind, and crazed pirates look to attack from the front

                                      Ya wish he moved faster but his (lack of) speed adds to the drama

Easily the most atmospheric level in a game that's filled with quite a couple nice ones

Think happy thoughts, right?  AND FAST!

         Be VERY quiet...

                                      Hook is hardly heralded as a top-notch game, but it is pretty good

Hmmm, where have I seen those skeletons before...

Gosh, it's like deja vu... but I just can't quite put my finger on it...

No time to figure it out! They're hot on your trail. Better make a run for it!

                                      Bad puns make the world go 'round!  [Can't say I'm HOOKED -Ed.]

Like horror movie villains they just keep coming and coming. The flame ball never ceases, either!

Keep running, Pan!

AH HA!  That's what they remind me of... well you know what they say. Intimidation is, uhhh, the sincerest form of flattery [*slaps forehead* -Ed.]

                                       One of the longer levels, and definitely the most satisfying of 'em

Finally, a boss fight that's somewhat of a challenge. Yes, heed the classic GamePro tip. This sucker can only be harmed from behind. Watch out for the homing head he chucks

First Castlevania... now they have to go and rip off Skeletor, eh?

                                                                            LEVEL NINE

Almost to the end. The game's graphics got a little messed up here. More on this later

                                                 No, the game doesn't actually have transparencies...

They just don't know
when to quit, do they?

Not nearly as bothersome as they were in the forest level though

Yay, apple!  But guarding it is a pretty fierce foe whose blades act as vicious boomerangs

                                       Who are ya suppose to be now, GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST?!

Better not indeed

Make haste, or become waste!

Can you locate the extra leaves scattered across the game?  Having four bars of energy comes in mighty handy for this stage, which is tougher than all the others

                                      Where have I seen that fool before?  Shades of laziness?  NEVER!

Level nine is definitely
a dog fight, especially compared to the other levels. This is probably the most difficult section of the game where cheap hits can't be avoided. After this, you face the boss and it's on to the final level and the showdown with Captain Hook. Can you save Jack and Maggie?

Damn, I really shouldn't have called him Ghost of Christmas Past...


As you saw with a shot from level nine, don't be fooled that Hook features fancy transparencies. It's just a graphical glitch. A pretty cool one though, admittedly  ^_^

Ukiyotei sure was ahead of their time...

                                                                WHAT THE CRITICS SAID

When I got back into the SNES January 17, 2006, it was my goal to buy all the games I ever loved and all the games I ever missed out on. Combined, it turned out to be a lot. I can remember browsing different boards reading up on different opinions. Hook always received rather favorable praise. It wasn't a game I cared for back in the day, but based on the fact that it came from the same makers that brought us Sky Blazer, and how much good I had read about Hook, I snatched up a copy not one month into my SNES resurrection. I do recall the ad though, which stated "The Critics Are HOOKED!"  It went on to quote, "One of the hottest action games I have ever played. The music is absolutely beautiful and the graphics are top-notch" (Super NES Buyer's Guide), "Hook is intelligently made from start to finish. Its execution is excellent"
(Game Players, Nintendo Guide) and "Hook's multi-layered, smoothly scrolling visuals inspire comparisons to Super NES legends such as ActRaiser and Super Castlevania IV. The music is so good, you'll want to crack open the cart and see if there's a Compact Disc inside!  Five-star gameplay. Hook succeeds in every way." (GamePro). And as we all know, it doesn't get much better than praise from GamePro. But in all seriousness, after playing this game recently for the first time, I made some rounds on the internet to check up on latest opinions of this game. I ran across quite a few that had less than stellar things to say about it. Which kind of shocked me, personally. I would never go so far as to compare it to Super Castlevania IV in any shape or form, but I also wouldn't say it's trash, either. Let's see what EGM and Super Play Magazine thought...

  • EGM: 8, 9, 9
  • Super Play: 72%


Hook is a simple fun little game. It weighs heavily on the easy scale. The ten levels are short, and some don't even feature bosses. Most of the bosses are a cake walk. Yet, I can't help but like this game. I'm not a fan of the movie at all, which I saw recently out of curiosity. But there is something basic and charming about this game. It takes me back to the good old days when action games were magical and whimsical. Sure you got your clichés, but really, what would a game of this type be without them??? Hook is a pleasure to play through, with some rather atmospheric stages, really vibrant strong visuals and a THUMPING soundtrack straight out of the movie.
It also features one of the coolest intros in SNES gaming history, instantly transporting you into a land of magic and wonder

PAN proves Thomas Wolfe was wrong -- you CAN go home again

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Hook is one of the best games you might have never played. You wish Pan would move a smidgen (or two) faster, that the game would be a bit more challenging, and just like Sky Blazer, when the levels start to really pull you in, before you know it it's over with. The gameplay is not shabby, just good enough in most places to be satisfying overall, but not quite good enough to complete the total package. Therefore, Hook falls short of being
a legitimately (very) good game, which it could have been with some tweaking here and there. It could have been a semi-gem of sorts, but the gameplay just isn't as stellar as the graphics and sound are. Still, I don't hesitate to recommend Hook to all SNES gamers. Too lightweight to be considered for heavyweight contention, Hook nevertheless put a smile or two on my face. Like Peter Banning himself, most of us are now grown-ups. Yet deep down, there is still a little child inside each one of us. Call me crazy but I think Hook does a good job representing this. It reminds me of a simpler time where junk emails don't exist but pixy dust and flying sure do!!  Better than the movie, and better than most movie to game adaptations, Hook deserves a closer look from anyone who skipped over it without a moment's notice. Neverland never looked SO good!  What are you waiting for -- go save Jack and Maggie, and rediscover your inner PAN

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 7.5
Longevity: 6

Overall: 7.5

Bronze Award

Indeed. You can rewind and play hindsight ALL you want, BUT...

                                       Don't we know that feeling all too well?  Alas, we must march on

I don't know who this might be for. Could be YOU... but... if you've had a 'ship pass in the night'
recently, my heart goes out to you. Myself, been there too many times to count. May I suggest
some further reading/viewing?  This might bless you tonight: Jesse's Girl. Take care of yourself!